In this second and final article I will discuss microphone patterns, recording device pre amp settings, editing and the final mastering phase of this collection. Before I dive into all the technical mumbo jumbo I want to express that when I’m setting up and actually recording thunder and lightning I get quite excited. There must be something in the air, alien mind control beams or just the anticipation of getting the “ultimate” thunder clap or lightning strike. It’s very hard work and involves exercise, listening, tracking the storms and watching the skies. I feel like a kid in a candy shop and I feel the recording is the easy part. So, now we begin.
October 7, 2014 – Frank Bry
In this article I will reveal my secrets and techniques to recording decent thunder and lightning. Many, many years and sleepless nights have gone into perfecting the art of recording the thunderstorm and I will finally share. But first, I want to share a little history and tell you how I developed these secrets and techniques. It was not so easy at first and here’s the story I’m still alive to tell. Part 1: Live and Learn.
Thunderstorm III HD Professional SFX library Update: Three years ago I started recording all new thunder and lightning sounds for this new collection. As you might guess you cannot call up the thunder gods and schedule a recording session or two. Strange I know but that’s the way they work. So, I’ve been slowly and patiently waiting, recording, waiting, recording, editing, waiting, recording, etc during this time and have recorded quite a bit of material.
This is a recording of a thunderstorm that passed through in the middle of the night and completely caught me off guard. This is the time of year that the weather here in the North Idaho panhandle brings surprises. Cold, heat, wind, rain and lightning are the norm on any given day. The weekend was much cooler than the last two months and I should have known a storm would zip on though and I almost missed it. I checked the weather before heading off to sleep and there was a 30% chance of rain but no thunder in the forecast. My gear was down in my basement studio as I was rocked out of bed by a huge thunder clap. I fumbled my way to the gear and rushed to get my MKH-8040ST plugged in to my SD-702 and place the mic outside the front door. I noticed my Low cut filter was on from a previous session and tried to change it quickly but missed an amazing lightning strike.
All was not lost so I began recording as there was just a slight misty rain and hoped the storm would continue and it did. The wind and rain picked up as the thunder was distant and then there was a closer lightning strike off to the East and the echo ping ponged against the nighttime mountains. As the wind and rain became even stronger there was another strike and below you can listen to both strikes edited together. There is no EQ or compression just some soft L2 limiting.
For the last month or so I’ve been driving my wife crazy with my microphone and recorder rigs sitting near the front door. I’ve been trying to record the thunderstorms that were forecast by the experts. So far I’ve been batting a thousand with thunder fail so last night I moved all the gear downstairs to the studio to make good with my wife.
I checked and double checked the weather forecast and there was a remote chance for scattered thunderstorms. This last month had the same forecast so I thought I was good with bringing the gear to the studio for the night. Around midnight I was jarred out of bed by a huge thunder clap. Now this is where it gets a little strange. I really thought I was dreaming. (yes, I do dream in sound effects) I then ran out to the front door and did not hear a thing. No rain, wind or thunder. I stood there for a few minutes in a sleep deprived daze and decided to go back to bed. A few minutes later the was a “KABOOM” and I was again running for the door to see if there was any lightning. By this time it was raining pretty hard so I knew I was not dreaming.
When I brought the gear downstairs to the studio and I removed the Windjammers and set them somewhere. I scrambled around for the Sennheiser 8040ST rig and I could not find the windjammer for it and then “KABOOM” another great thunder clap…. with light rain. I decided to go without the Windjammer but I was nervous because it can protect the microphones from light rain. I set the 8040s outside the door and then I remembered where I put the Windjammer. Bingo, back in business!
I sat there with the recorder on my kitchen table for about 45 minutes and recorded 5 rumbles. I estimate by the time arrival after the lightning flash to be 8 to 10 miles away. Twice a car drove by just after the lightning strike but the pass by sound had faded by the time the rumble came. Still, go figure, cars driving by at that hour on my street? Very rare except when I’m recording something.
The thunderstorm was recorded on June 12, 2011 with a matched stereo pair of Sennheiser MKH 8040s. Prepare your subwoofer because they really rumble. There is no EQ or any other processing except cross fades and mild L2 limiting in Pro Tools 9 HD.
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Game Audio Portfolio
• Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare
• Battlefield 4
• Donkey Kong Country Returns
• Guitar Hero: Warriors of Rock
• Monday Night Combat
• Space Siege
• Supreme Commander 1 & 2
• Unreal Championship 2
• Armies Of Exigo
• Axis & Allies
• Kohan: Kings of War
• Dungeon Siege 1 & 2
• Metroid Prime 1, 2 & 3
• Neverwinter Nights
• Total Annihilation
News & Press
- The Recordist Article 2013December 29, 2013 - 6:15 am
- Interview with Frank BryMarch 20, 2013 - 5:47 pm
- Tonebenders Gun Recording PodcastFebruary 19, 2013 - 10:08 am
- Making the Mangled Metal SFX LibraryJuly 7, 2011 - 4:39 pm
- My Exclusive Q and A with Designing SoundAugust 5, 2010 - 5:21 pm
- Breaking The Sound BarrierJune 1, 2010 - 6:38 am